Amnesty for Boko Haram?


By Eddy Odivwri

It is difficult to understand the motivation for the Bill seeking some kind of amnesty for the Boko Haram insurgents. The proponents of the Bill are likely to site the amnesty granted the Niger Delta agitators by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration.

But the truth is that the two scenarios are not the same. While the Niger Delta agitators were demanding better life for the producers of the oil resources in Nigeria, the Boko Haram insurgents are crusading for the stoppage of western education. While the one is a legitimate demand, the other is rather weird and retrogressive. Again, while the Niger Delta fellows were targeting oil facilities and equipment (with human casualties as mere collateral victims) the Boko Haram is completely indiscriminate in its annihilating agenda of men and materials.

Thus, while the Niger Delta agitators were Ideology-driven, the Boko Haram bandits are more or less like blood-thirsty demons, where no one is spared, be they soldiers, women or children or even innocent school children.

Apart from the Nigerian civil war, no other security challenge has tasked Nigeria’s economy (human and material resources) as much as the effort to combat the Boko Haram insurgents.

The consequences of the war are so far telling and portend even greater danger for the future of the country, what with the army of orphans and widows and a clan of beleaguered persons all over the northern part of the country.

Again, apart from the Nigerian civil war, no other security challenge has engaged the Nigeria security apparatchik as much as the Boko Haram menace. So many soldiers have been lost to the war. It is clearly an insurrection against the Nigerian state. It is even worse by the fact that they are being aided and supported by foreign bodies like ISWAP, ISIS etc. How can we arrest such deadly, disloyal persons and release them, just like that? Does that not simply explain why the rank and file of the Boko Haram fighters does not seem to ever deplete despite the many raids and killings by the Nigerian soldiers?

Surely, the soldiers have been battling to over-run the insurgents. While many are killed, many others are arrested.

But surprisingly, those arrested are not only detained in prison custody, they are soon sent to rehabilitation camps where they claim they are to be de-radicalised. The so-called period of de-radicalisation which is about three or so months eventually leads to the release of the captured insurgents back to the society, in what they describe as social re-integration. It is so dreary that in some of the communities, the de-radicalised insurgents are rejected by those who know them and their dangerous past. Indeed, many of the so-called de-radicalised persons go back to rejoin the insurgents and fight with even fiercer gut.

I therefore do not see the wisdom in trying to strengthen our enemies in the name of being large hearted.

There is no reliable statistics to show or prove that indeed, those de-radicalised do turn a new leaf and are helpful either to their immediate communities or even in the help to overcome terrorism.

International agencies like Amnesty International has been putting undue and ungodly pressure on the Nigerian army not to kill arrested fighters. But what does AI say when the Boko Haram rebels kill soldiers and innocent unarmed citizens? Amnesty International will then go silent. That double measure is unacceptable. Killers must be killed!

If the Boko Haram fighters willfully surrender their weapons and denounce the killer squad, then they could be rehabilitated and placed under careful surveillance, but not those caught in the war front, struggling to kill our people.

Why are we eager to save those who want to kill us?